Double Up Food Bucks

From Our Farms, For Our Families

Access to healthy, fresh, sustainably grown food is an essential building block of a productive life. Yet many low-income families have fewer opportunities to access healthy food even when they have access to federal food assistance benefits. This is not only a health and nutrition issue — it is an equity issue.

There are 1.9 million SNAP recipients in Michigan — that’s 19% of the state’s population (the national average is 15.4%).  Our Double Up Food Bucks project provides families who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits with the means to purchase more Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables while supporting local food growers and the local food economy.

The Opportunity

  • Improve availability and affordability of fresh fruits and vegetables in underserved communities via farmers’ markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and targeted small grocery stores.
  • Grow the local economy by supporting purchases from local farmers, urban gardeners, locally owned small groceries, and farm stands.
  • Increase the diversity of marketing opportunities for agricultural producers.
  • Shift future food assistance policy so that families will receive a dedicated allocation of SNAP benefits for fruits and vegetables.

Supporting Michigan Families and Farmers – How it Works

Double Up Food Bucks draws on a pool of funds raised from foundations to “match” purchases at participating locations. When recipients use their SNAP EBT card to shop at these markets, they receive Double Up Food Bucks to match the amount they spend – only for Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables. Families have more purchasing power to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and Michigan growers have more sales opportunities for their produce.

Since 2009, Double Up Food Bucks has operated at farmers’ markets throughout Michigan. At farmers’ markets, Double Up Food Bucks will match any SNAP purchases at the market up to $20 per market day, with the matching tokens only valid for Michigan grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

Starting July 1, 2013, Double Up Food Bucks will expand into three full-service grocery stores in Detroit:

  • Metro Foodland
  • Honey Bee Market, and
  • Mike’s Fresh Market (Gratiot location)

In grocery stores, customers who spend at least $10 on fruits and vegetables using a SNAP EBT card will receive a Double Up Food Bucks card worth $10 toward their next purchase of Michigan-grown produce.  This innovative pilot, the first of its kind in the country, has the potential to reach thousands of new customers and to draw more Michigan-sourced produce into large-scale grocery stores.

Our Progress

Double Up Food Bucks was piloted in Detroit in 2009 and launched in Southeast Michigan in August 2010.  By 2012, with the support of nearly 40 foundations, it had expanded statewide to include 75 farmers’ markets.

  • In 2012, SNAP recipients made 89,428 visits to 75 participating markets statewide – and 13,306 customers visited a farmers’ market for
  • From 2009 - 2012, over $3 million in healthy, fresh, locally-produced foods have been purchased by customers using SNAP benefits and DUFB at participating markets.
  • SNAP redemptions at Michigan markets in 2011 and 2012 were hundreds of thousands of dollars greater than in any other Midwestern state.
  • In a survey of customers, 96% said they would participate in DUFB again and would like it expanded to more places.

Evaluation

Fair Food Network completed an evaluation of its Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) incentive program for 2012. This report, a part of a three-year evaluation, is assessing DUFB's effectiveness in leveraging federal SNAP resources to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables for shoppers on federal food assistance while strengthening and diversifying farm economies.

View the report:
Double Up Food Bucks - 2012 Evaluation Report


Cluster Evaluation

Fair Food Network is also collaborating with three other organizations, Wholesome Wave, Roots of Change, and Market Umbrella, on a national cluster evaluation of farmers’ market incentive programs.

The goal of the study is to support existing implementation and provide a framework for future investments and potential national expansion. Results find that healthy food incentive programs at farmers’ markets significantly boost healthy eating in underserved communities, improve the economic viability of farmers, and strengthen local economies.

View the report:
Healthy Food Incentives Cluster Evaluation 2013 Final Report
 

New Directions

Double Up Food Bucks continues to grow and innovate – the 2013 season will include over 85 market sites.  Some of these sites will pilot an exciting new method for accepting SNAP payments using mobile technology. 

To learn more, visit our Double Up Food Bucks website: www.doubleupfoodbucks.org

Video